PSYA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Noam Chomsky

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3 Apr 2011
Chapter 10 Language
Speech and Comprehension
Perception of Speech
Recognition of Speech Sounds
-we can filter out the non-speech sounds, such as coughs or chuckles, within an individuals
-the auditory system recognizes the patterns underlying speech rather than just the sounds
Belin, Zatorre, and Ahadusing fMRI found that temporal lobe, on the auditory cortex, responded
more when people heard human vocalizations than when they heard only natural sounds
-when it comes to analyzing the detailed information of speech, the left hemisphere plays a larger
Phonemesthe smallest unit of sound that conveys meaning in a particular language, such as /p/
e.g. good 3 phonemes /g/ /oo/ /d/
voice-onset timethe delay between the initial sound of a consonant (such as the puffing sound of the
phoneme /p/) and the onset of vibration of the vocal cords
-phonemic discriminations begin with auditory processing of the sensory differences, and this
occurs in both hemispheres
Scott, Blank, Rosen, and Wiseusing PET scans
Superior temporal lobe – respond to speech sounds
-regions that responded to phonetic information (normal speech sounds or a computerized
transformation speech that preserved the complexity of the speech sounds but rendered it
-region that responded only to intelligible speech (normal speech sounds or a computerized
transformation that removed most normal frequencies but preserved intelligibility)
-these latter regions of the auditory cortex must rely on information that transcends the distortions of
individual phonemes
Ganong – found that the perception of a phoneme is affected by the sounds that follow it
-used a computer to synthesize a novel sound that fell between those of the phonemes /g/ and /k/
-we recognize speech sounds in pieces larger than individual phonemes (ift = gift)
Morpheme - the smallest unit of meaning in language
-the syntax of a particular language determines how phonemes can be combined to form morphemes
e.g. the word fastest contains two morphemes, /fast/, which is a free morpheme, because it can stand on
its own and still have meaning, and /ist/, which is a bound morpheme
Recognition of Words in Continuous Speech
Sanders, Newport, and Nevilleexamined brain wave activity when people listened to a continuous
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string of sounds
(composed of short syllabic) babupudutabatutibubabupubu
Sanderstook some of the sounds from the continuous stream and designated them aswords
N100 wavea electrical signal that appears shortly after people hear the onset of a word
-when people learned these nonsense sounds as words, they showed the N100 response – despite the
fact that there were no additional auditory cues to segment the string of sounds
affect word perception – through top-down processing (context)
-when reading just as we do when speaking
Understanding the Meaning of Speech
-use words with which the listener is familiar and combine them in specific ways
e.g.the two boys looked at the heavy box”
Syntactical rulea grammatical rule of a particular language for combining words to form phrases,
clauses, and sentences (learned implicitly)
-our understanding of syntax is automatic (even children can understand)
-fMRI studies have shown that as syntax becomes more complex or ambiguous, our brains become
more active
Knowlton, Ramus, and Squirefound that patients with anterograde amnesia were able to learn an
artificial grammar even though they had lost the ability to form explicit memories
Gabrieli, Cohen, and Corkinlearning syntax and word meaning appears to involve different types of
memory-and different brain echanisms
Syntactical cues are signaled by word order(The A Xs the B), word class(grammatical categories: noun,
pronoun, verb), function and content words, affixes, word meanings prosody
Function wordsa preposition, article, or other word that conveys little of the meaning of a sentence
but is important in specifying its grammatical structure
e.g. a, the, to, some, and, but, when (express relationship between content words)
Content worda noun, verb adjective, or adverb that conveys meaning
e.g. apple, rug, went, caught, heavy, mysterious, thoroughly, sadly
Affixesa sound or group of letters that is added to the beginning of a word(prefix) or to its end (suffix)
to alter their grammatical function
e.g. add suffix-ed (past tense)
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semanticsthe meanings and the study of the meanings represented by words
e.g. Frank discovered a louse combing his beard
prosody – the use of changes in intonation and emphasis to convey meaning in speech besides that
specified by the particular words; an important means of communication of emotion
-use of stress, rhythm, and changes in pitch
-important in language comprehension, because our communication relies on spoken forms
e.g. Since Jay always jogs five miles this seems like a short distance to him.
Low pitch in jogs, sounds like gonna end
Relation between Semantics and Syntax
Noam Chomsky – suggested that newly formed sentences are represented in the brain in terms of their
meaning (deep structure)
Deep structurethe essential meaning/kernel of a sentence, without regard to the grammatical
features (surface structure) of the sentence that are needed to express it in words
-in order to say the sentence, the brain must transform the deep structure into the appropriate surface
Surface structurethe grammatical features of a sentence
e.g.Rosa always date shranks
Fromkinslip of the tongue clues about the way a sentences deep structure can be transformed into
a particular surface structure
-something went wrong during the transformation of the deep structure (meaning) into the
surface structure (words and syntax)
Erardillustrate their root in the linearity of language
Errors = imposed by the requirement that words necessarily follow one another
Conduction aphasia – can understand but cant repeat words and phrases
Knowledge of the World
Schank and Abelsoncomprehension of speech involves knowledge about the world about
particular situations – organized into scripts
Scriptsthe characteristics (events, rules, etc) that are typical of a particular situation; assists the
comprehension of verbal discourse
-we need to know aboutaspirin” in order to understand the sentence
Brain Mechanisms of Verbal Behaviour
Frontal lobescontrol speech production
-damage to motor association cortex in the left frontal lobe (Brocas area-speech dominant)
disrupts the ability to speak
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